Friday, July 08, 2005

Mountain Democrat Online: retired cop shot at--HOA feud to blame?
POLLOCK PINES - In 23 years of duty on the San Francisco Police Department, Paul Seidler, 62, had never been shot at, but all that changed Wednesday at 2 a.m. when three suspects reportedly entered his home on Gold Ridge Lane and shot at him twice, narrowly missing, according to El Dorado County Sheriff's reports. Seidler identifies himself as the country's first openly gay uniformed police officer who acted as a liaison between the SFPD and the gay community after the White Night Riots. While openly homosexual, Seidler said he believes the incident is related to problems he claims he has been having with ongoing harassment from his homeowners association. "It started with the homeowners association," Seidler said. "My house has been paint-balled, tacos were thrown at my car ... the little incidences built up into large incidences." He told the Mountain Democrat that in the past he has criticized the Gold Ridge Forest Property Owners Association. He claimed the association has held meetings without giving notice and voted without the required quorum. Seidler also said he has had trouble with the association since he has built the second story deck on his home, which does not have a door on the back. - Carroll planning board threatened with jail
Approve this project or be incarcerated, says judge. How's that for local democracy?

Despite a shortage of water and a petition signed by 600 residents, a judge has ordered the Carroll County zoning commission to reverse itself and immediately approve a 254-townhouse project in a badly congested region of the county. The Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission must approve the Eldersburg project or its members -- including a county commissioner -- could be jailed for contempt, according to Carroll Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway. The planning commission denied the project last year, citing inadequate facilities in South Carroll, whose population has nearly tripled since 1980. Residents also submitted to the court a petition with more than 600 signatures opposing the project.

Man Sues Mass. for Right to Get Drunk - Yahoo! News
I don't recall having seen "the right to get drunk on private property" in the Bill of Rights, but I suppose it's worth taking another look to see if I missed something.

BOSTON - A man arrested when police showed up to break up a New Year's Eve party at a friend's house has filed a lawsuit, arguing he had a constitutional right to get drunk on private property as long as he didn't cause a public disturbance. Eric Laverriere, 25, of Portland, Maine, was taken into protective custody by Waltham police and locked in a cell for nine hours until the effects of the alcohol wore off. Legal experts said his lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Boston, is the first to challenge a state law allowing police to lock up drunk people against their will for their own protection. Laverriere argues that the Massachusetts Protective Custody Law was written to combat public drunkenness and that the police had no right to use it to take him from a private residence.
SAN FRANCISCO / Tenancies-in-common battle hits courtroom / North Beach owner wants to convert a 6-unit property
This article, sent to me by Nancy Levy, talks about the weird practice of buying buildings as tenants in common, a San Francisco staple. People get together and buy apartment buildings as TCs, instead of doing condo conversions. It can be enormously profitable because they city regulates the purchase price in order to help tenants become owners, but after they buy as TCs they can then sell the building at market rate.

The high-stakes, often cutthroat contest of who buys and who rents homes in one of the world's most competitive real estate markets will play out in a civil trial today in a San Francisco courtroom. The case will determine whether the owners of a rent-controlled North Beach apartment building can evict the 13 tenants who currently live there in order to convert the property into tenancies-in-common for sale and, perhaps one day, lucrative condominiums. But the debate stretches far beyond the six-unit property at 424-434 Francisco St. and strikes at the heart of affordable housing in the city by highlighting the contention surrounding increasingly popular tenancies-in- common, or TICs, in which a group of people collectively own a building but live in separate units and share the mortgage.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Americans Migrate to Cities in South, West - Yahoo! News
From Fred Pilot comes this AP article summarizing a recent Census Bureau report on how Americans are, as Fred puts, migrating to Privatopia.
WASHINGTON - Skyrocketing housing prices are driving people from San Francisco, Boston and other big cities. Warm weather and more affordable living are behind the rapid growth in midsize cities in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California.

SB 186 Senate Bill - Bill Analysis
Fred Pilot sent this link to a California legislative bill analysis dealing with use of association funds for campaign purposes in association elections. There is some interesting language in the analysis, quoting the bill's author, which ai assume is Senator Battin:

Common interest developments (CIDs) . . . are powerful
contractual institutions that help maintain their
residents' property values by enforcing local regulations .
. . When operating as intended, they maintain order as well
as afford relief to local municipalities by providing
homeowners with necessities such as paved roads, water, and
street lights. They may also offer benefits, such as
recreational centers.

Governed by elected boards, CIDs act much like
quasi-governments by levying fees, or "assessments," to
gain the revenues needed for the association to fulfill its
obligations. This authority places a large amount of power
into the hands of the elected board members.
Unfortunately, California law is not specific concerning
the oversight of elections held within CIDs, opening the
possibility for serious abuses of power.

One such instance is when a sitting board or individual
board member uses association funds to pay for
"informational" newsletters that are just thinly veiled
campaign pieces. This is not the purpose for which
assessments are levied, and it gives an unfair advantage to
the incumbents. This is akin to a city council member
using city funds to finance their own campaign, or a
legislator running for office using his or her block grant
. . .

Though many associations have already adopted stringent
guidelines in their articles of incorporation and/or
bylaws, the lack of statutory direction leaves gaping
loopholes open to exploitation. SB 186 addresses this
problem, and in conjunction with SB 61 will serve to
guarantee the sanctity of the ballot box in common interest
Daily Herald | Kane County, Illinois--Batavia: Subdivision residents may be taxed for maintenance
I've been hamstrung in blogging recently because of my office being renovated...v-e-r-r-r-r-y s-l-o-o-o-ow-l-y--and only today, I am told, will my new office computer be hooked up and ready to use.

Here's an Illinois story sent by Fred Pilot. An HOA is not functioning like it should, so the city says--fine, we'll create a special service area and tax you HOA residents for it. As I keep saying, HOAs are rapidly becoming an extension of local government.

For years, Batavia officials have complained no one has taken full responsibility for mowing the grass around the wetlands, keeping the algae out of the ponds and maintaining the entryways at the Davey Farm subdivision. If no one pledges in the next few months to keep up those areas, as well as the half-acre park and other pockets of green space, city officials say residents will pay the price. The city is ready to invoke a special service area drawn up in the 1997 annexation agreement and levy a tax against the homeowners. “The association hasn’t quite gotten its act together,” Alderman Jim Volk said. “They are not keeping up with maintenance.”

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Press release on status of Las Vegas Grand lawsuit
Nancy Levy forwarded this update on the mega-suit against the developer and other "entities" responsible for constructing the Grand--now removed to federal court. But sometimes the federal judge doesn't buy the diversity of citizenship argument, and back she comes. We'll see.

LAS VEGAS, NV, (NAMC) - On June 8, 2005, defendant Vegas Grand filed a motion to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court, for the District of Nevada. The filing immediately removed the case from the Nevada state courts to the federal courts. The case is now pending in the federal court in Nevada and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan. - News - Chicago Housing Authority To Install Additional Cameras At Developments
Thanks to Nancy Levy for this one. I thought Cabrini Green was supposed to be knocked down and replaced by condos and townhomes by now. Nice to know they can focus in real close on those gunshots. Things sure are under control in Chicago public housing, don't you think?

The Chicago Housing Authority will install police surveillance cameras at additional developments, officials said Wednesday.At a news conference at the Near North District police station, 1160 N. Larrabee St., Mayor Richard M. Daley said the CHA has purchased 24 new bulletproof cameras identical to those used under the 2-year-old "Operation Disruption" and monitored by the city's 911 Center. Ten cameras already are in place at various CHA complexes, including Cabrini-Green, and 14 more will be installed by the end of the year, according to Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications...Daley said the cameras will also be equipped with the same acoustic sensors used to triangulate the position of nearby gunfire. When gunshots are detected by the cameras, an alarm is sent to the 911 Center and the camera's lens focuses on the area where the gunshot went off..
Possible Declaration of Independence copy found in Alabama...

...Nicholas Cage being sought for questioning...

This much is certain: Janice Burks has a copy of the Declaration of Independence, which her late husband said he found in a hidden compartment in a box he bought in Philadelphia decades ago. Past that, the truths are not exactly self-evident...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Man arrested after he rescues swimmer
Today's tale of local government employees run amuck has to be read to be believed. There is little doubt that had this man not done what he did, the fellow he rescued would hve died.

When Dave Newman waded out of the San Marcos River on Sunday afternoon, he was exhausted. He had just pulled Abed Duamni of Houston out of the swirling waters below Joe's Crab Shack and deposited him, safe and sound, on the far shoreline. Then Newman, of San Marcos, was handcuffed, put in a Texas State University police squad car and taken to jail, where he was charged with interfering with public duties.

Harold Berliner: Don't let your taxes pay for private developments
From Nancy Levy comes this link to this remarkable piece by a former elected District Attorney of Nevada County, California, who lays out in detail the dynamics of real estate development that lead to privatization. It even has 25 footnotes. Local governments, he says, are strapped for cash and thus approve residential development projects where the developer promises to build the infrastructure. This is a must-read, especially for people who still doubt that it is land economics that is driving the rise of common interest housing, and who claim that it is all about consumers demanding private governments and deed restrictions.

Local government does not have enough cash on hand to invest in anything but it's most essential, depleted public infrastructure – some of which is 100 years old, and vitally needed to improve present traffic conditions. The present Board and Councils are well aware of these priorities, and hesitate to depend on "iffy" money in the future to finance projects that benefit single developments; especially ones that are trying to off-load their full infrastructure responsibilities and are not significantly helping the present population.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Supreme Court job approval drops
The Kelo decision was announced on June 23. This poll was taken from June 24 to June 26. The switch in approval/disapproval is striking: from 51/39 to 42/48. And that followed on a drop from around 60% approval that had held for several years. From 60% to 42%--it's time for some new blood on this court. O'Connor's replacement can't be put in place too soon for me. (I found this link on Polipundit).